Responsibilities of doctors and funeral directors

This information can be used as a guide when:

  • doctors certify a death from natural causes (not referred to the coroner)
  • funeral directors arrange a burial or cremation
  • adding court appointed guardian details to a death record.

Funeral directors can:

  • register a death
  • apply for cremation permits
  • apply for death certificates.

Notice of death

The doctor who certifies the death must also notify Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) within 48 hours of the death.

The written notice (white copy) of the doctor’s certificate of cause of death is the first advice to BDM. It will be used to confirm the death by matching information with:

  • death registration statement from the funeral director
  • cause of death completed by the doctor.

The notice also alerts BDM if all related forms are not received.

Cause of death

The doctor’s certificate of cause of death must:

  • provide sufficient detail and all sections must be complete
  • be legible, with the doctor’s name, address and contact details
  • show the cause of death - including the duration
  • include any antecedent causes or contributing conditions - including the duration.

The doctor’s certificate of cause of death consists of three pages.

1. White copy - must be posted and delivered within 48 hours of the death to:

The Registrar
Births, Deaths and Marriages

GPO Box 1351
Adelaide SA 5001

Do not give this copy to the funeral director.

2. Yellow copy - goes to the funeral director or person who is arranging burial or cremation. You may email or fax the yellow copy to the funeral director or person who is arranging burial or cremation. Where the yellow copy has been emailed or faxed, it can be posted with the white copy to Births, Deaths and Marriages.

3. Blue copy - retained by the doctor.

Data collection

Information on a death certificate is a primary source for gathering Australian mortality statistics. After a death is registered, BDM sends the certificate to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Use the Cause of Death Certification information paper and Quick Reference on the ABS website to assist with completing the medical certificate of cause of death.

The ABS also provides guidance for certifying deaths due to COVID-19.

For printed supplies of doctor's Certificate of cause of death or notification booklets, contact BDM.

Burial and cremation forms completed by the doctor

Forms for the funeral director

The person arranging the burial or cremation must complete and lodge:

  • Form 1 - Application for a cremation permit
  • Form 2 - Cremation permit

Forms 1 and 2 must be lodged together.

Printed forms are available by contacting BDM.

Use the notes for funeral directors to ensure the doctor has provided all other relevant forms.

Register a death and apply for cremation permits or death certificates online

Adding a court appointed guardian to a child's death record

A court appointed guardian can apply to have their name added to a child’s death record.

Application form and information for funeral directors - Register a death page

Identification tags

An ID tag with the person’s full name and place of death - written in permanent ink - must be securely attached to the deceased before their body can be moved.

The ID tag can be completed by:

  • the doctor responsible for medical care immediately before death
  • another person who personally knew the deceased
  • a person who is otherwise able to confirm the identity of the deceased.

The ID tag must be large enough to display the name and place of death, and of appropriate material so it can be written on in permanent ink and cannot easily be removed from the body.

The tag needs to be attached to the left arm of the deceased. If this is not practical, attach it to the next position in the following order:

  • right arm
  • left leg
  • right leg
  • another part of the bodily remains.

Early loss of pregnancy

Early loss of pregnancy commemorative certificates are available for parents who have delivered at less than 20 weeks gestation or if the gestation weight was less than 400 grams if dates can’t be confirmed.

These births are not able to be registered under the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996.

A letter from a doctor or midwife confirming the loss of a pregnancy is needed when applying for a commemorative certificate.

Use the statement of early loss of pregnancy template and print on letterhead stationery to ensure BDM receives sufficient information.

Contact Births, Deaths and Marriages

Phone: 131 882
International: +61 8 8204 8532

GPO Box 1351
Adelaide SA 5001

Contact Births, Deaths and Marriages

Related information

On this site

On other sites

SA Health - bereavement information for GPs and other primary health care clinicians

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    Page last updated 4 November 2021

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    Attorney-General's Department
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